The city of Phoenix hired a team of lawyers to look into their police department after protestors at a Black Lives Matter Rally were charged for being in a gang called “ACAB” or “All Cops Are Bastards.”
In a pretty damning report released by the city on Thursday, the lawyers found no evidence of gang involvement for the 15 protestors who were charged in October 2020. The charges were dropped by prosecutors but lawsuits were filed and investigations were launched into the police department and Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel.
According to the Associated Press, the Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams has been suspended for one day in accordance with city policy after it was discovered her assistant chiefs approved of the charges. The lawyers also included in the report that before charging the protestors with assisting the “anti-police gang,” there was no input from the department’s gang enforcement unit before it was brought before a grand jury.
In addition to the chief’s suspension, three assistant chiefs who approved the charges were removed and a sergeant was put on administrative leave pending criminal and administrative investigations.
According to AP:
Concluding that ACAB is a slogan rather than a group, the outside lawyers said they “found no credible evidence to support the assertion that ACAB is a criminal street gang, that it organized the protest of October 17, or was prone to violence.”
The gang charges were later dismissed at the request of prosecutors. The city is asking the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to investigate any criminal matters arising from the report.
The lawyers at Ballard Spahr, the firm responsible for authoring the report, recommend that a second investigation be carried out by an outside law enforcement agency after they experienced a lack of cooperation from the police department and prosecutor’s office.
The 52-page independent report was ordered by the Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher, according to NBC’s 12 News, and it found that 14 Phoenix police representatives, Maricopa County prosecutors, and an FBI agent were all present the day the charges were decided. It also suggests that Chief Williams, although being suspended, was not told about the investigation and charges concerning the protestors.
The department has been called out in recent years for its volatile response to protests and high number of police shootings and is currently undergoing an investigation by the Department of Justice and another investigation by Ballard Spahr for the police force’s response to protests in August 2017.